Playgroup closes the generational divide

Mr Sumeet Joseph

An intergenerational playgroup in SummitCare’s Wallsend aged care centre is putting smiles on the faces of all involved. A special new playgroup at SummitCare’s residential aged care centre in Wallsend highlights the benefits of intergenerational activities for children and the elderly.

The Bent Street centre in Newcastle recently established Wallsend Youngsters on the Summit with the assistance of Playgroup NSW, the peak body representing playgroups across the state that seeks to support families and strengthen local communities through playgroups.

The aim of the Newcastle playgroup is to foster a connection between generations. Held weekly, parents and carers of children aged up to 6 are welcome to drop in to the Wallsend centre on Mondays from 9.45am until 11.45am to meet with a select group of residents and share activities.

SummitCare CEO Cynthia Payne said the concept had quickly proven to be a resounding success.
“The playgroup really unites some of the youngest members of the community with senior residents and the laughter and learning that occurs – for young and old – is remarkable to witness,” she said.

Playgroup activities include music, singing, art activities and stories. The initiative comes in response to strong anecdotal evidence that people of different age groups have much to gain from intergenerational connections. Karen van Woudenberg, Playgroup NSW Deputy CEO, said intergenerational playgroups brought together seniors, children and their parents.

“Interacting with seniors adds a new dimension to the playgroup experience and can be especially enriching for those who are not able to spend time with their grandparents,” she said.

Ms Payne agreed that the initiative had clear benefits for all involved.“Parents of the playgroup children have a chance to meet new people and make new friends, while for children it helps their social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language development,” she said. “And the smiles on our residents’ faces show how much they just love it when they interact with children.”

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